Paul Kahan on “Amiable Scoundrel: Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s Scandalous Secretary of War”
From abject poverty to undisputed political boss of Pennsylvania, Lincoln’s secretary of war, senator, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a founder of the Republican Party, Simon Cameron (1799–1889) was one of the nineteenth century’s most prominent political figures. In his wake, however, he left a series of questionable political and business dealings and, at the age of eighty, even a sex scandal.
Amiable Scoundrel puts Cameron’s actions into a larger historical context by demonstrating that many politicians of the time, including Abraham Lincoln, used similar tactics to win elections and advance their careers. This study is the fascinating story of Cameron’s life and an illuminating portrait of his times.
Paul Kahan is a lecturer at Ohlone College in Fremont, California. He is the author of “Eastern State Penitentiary: A History”, “Seminary of Virtue: The Ideology and Practice of Inmate Reform at Eastern State Penitentiary, 1829-1971”, “The Bank War: Andrew Jackson, Nicholas Biddle, and the Fight for American Finance”, “The Homestead Strike: Labor, Violence, and American Industry”, and “Amiable Scoundrel – Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s Scandalous Secretary of War”.
Dr. Kahan earned a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Temple University where he worked with William W. Cutler, III. Prior to that, Dr. Kahan earned his M.A. in Modern American History & Literature from Drew University and B.A.s in history and English (with minors in medieval/Renaissance studies and music) from Alfred University.